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Rhode Island Natural History Survey » National Research Council Reports on Informal Science Education
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Education &Exec's Blog &News dgregg on 04 Feb 2009 03:18 pm

National Research Council Reports on Informal Science Education

The National Research Council of the National Academies recently announced the release of a report on the efficacy of non-classroom (sometimes called “informal”) science education. Although under development for some time, this release is pretty timely stuff with the new Obama administration having promised to put science back in its rightful place and Congress considering various versions of No Child Left Indoors legislation. In my brief read of a pre-release version available on line (see link below), I’m not sure that the conclusion–that worthwhile science learning can take place in non-classroom situations, be they formally or informally organized–is either startling or particularly useful by itself. In a world of extreme financial resource scarcity, it would have been much more useful to have a strong conclusion about the relative efficiency of non-classroom versus classroom science education. Of more apparent value is the considerable effort made by the authors to provide guidance on evaluating non-classroom science education program outcomes. Quantitative evaluation of informal education is notoriously difficult and the lack of positive, objective “metrics” has been a stumbling block to those trying to increase support for such programs. New directions with regard to program assessment would, therefore, be useful. But don’t take my word for it, see for yourself:

Link to NRC Report on Science Education

I’m interested in your thoughts. Please leave comments below.

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